Industrial Revolution, Spinning Jenny…and Why fairies need scarves

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So, after a lot of family drama, we eventually made it over to England to visit Hannah’s great-granny Violet,  meet up university friends whom we’ve  not seen in almost 15 years, and then up to the north, to see Matt’s parents. “Too much (non-relevant) information” for a weaving blog? Well it turned out to be more of a weaving trip than I’d imagined.

To start with – “old uni friends” – Claire Silverthorne and I went to Winchester School of Art together, and became good friends. Both of us specialised in weaving, and while I always went a bit mad with colour and technicalities (give me 36 shafts and I’ll still want 2 more to put the selvedge on), Claire was the master of subtle designs and delicate colours. She can work magic with 2 colours and make it a full palet. Not to mention having had more of a clue how to use the Jacquard! Claire’s now married with two beautiful wee girls, and when we met up she returned 2 scarves I’d made a very long time ago. One (pictured here), Claire described to Poppy as “a scarve for fairies” towit Poppy repied “why do fairies need scarves?” A lesson to all of us not to get too airy-fairy in our naming policies or what we think we make! There’s always a 4 year old around to help bring you back down to earth!

And then there was the trip to Arkright’s mill, 10 minutes from my parents-in-law’s house…

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2 weeks later I get back to finish this post –
spinning jennies and water powered mills –
My parents-in-law live in Derbyshire, about 10 minutes away from Arkright’s first mills – “Masson Mill” and “Arkright’s Mill” at Cromford. If this means nothing to you, then it’s time to read up on your weaving / spinning history.
Arkright “Father of the Factory System”, for better or worse, was one of the men who changed the course of spinning/weaving history and brought it into the industrial age – to the cost of traditional weavers and spinners. There is a lot of debate if he and men like him, were forces for good or ill for spinners and weavers, but as Hemmingway said, you cannot stop an idea whose time has come – so maybe it was just that Arkright had the ideas first and it was all going to happen anyway.
Unfortunately the state of the mills right now is a bit sad, and although there are working looms, carders and other machinery to see in Masson mill they seem to only be churning out deck-chair fabric, while Arkright’s Mill is infuriating-ly a “Weaver-free” zone.  The photographs above are from Arkright’s mill (the weir, sluce gate and out buildings), and the internal photos are from Masson Mill museum – about 10 minutes away from Arkrights mill.

For a real treat on a working mill and the conditions of those who worked there “Quarrybank Mill” is excellent – but that’s another story – and day trip – entirely

I did some Googling to find out a bit more about Arkright, Cromford and Masson, and found some interesting links by more knowledgeable people than myself. 
 
http://www.arkwrightsociety.org.uk/
http://www.massonmills.co.uk/
http://www.derbyshireuk.net/mills3.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cromford_Mill
http://www.flickr.com/photos/7382107@N04/3815664870/

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